Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I'm Not Perfect

I'll begin by adding the post that has inspired my blog post today, written by Single Dad Laughing.  (You can find his blog HERE, and his Facebook page HERE.)  *My comments are below his blog post.*

"As a warning, the following post was written in complete desperation. I have recently learned some very sobering truths from people that I love dearly. These truths have set in motion a quest within me to do whatever I can to make a change. Today is not geared at funny. Today is geared at something greater. Read it to the very end. I promise you will be affected in a way you have always needed to 
be. I spent more than twelve hours writing this post because its message is that important to me.

I wonder. Am I the only one aware that there is an infectious mental disease laying siege on us right now? There is a serious pandemic of “Perfection” spreading, and it needs to stop. Hear me out because this is something for which I am passionately and constantly hurting. It’s a sickness that I’ve been trying to put into words for years without much success. It’s a sickness that I have personally struggled with. It’s a sickness that at times has left me hiding in dark corners and hating myself.

And chances are it’s hit you too.

What is the disease called ”Perfection”? Perhaps a list of its real-life symptoms will help you better understand it. We live in communities where people feel unconquerable amounts of pressure to always appear perfectly happy, perfectly functional, and perfectly figured. “Perfection” is much different than perfectionism. The following examples of “Perfection” are all real examples that I have collected from experiences in my own life, from confidential sources, or from my circle of loved ones and friends. If you actually stop to think about some of these, you will cry as I did while writing it. If you don’t, maybe you’re infected with way too much of this ”Perfection” infection.

“Perfection” is a wife who feels trapped in a marriage to a lazy, angry, small man, but at soccer practice tells the other wives how wonderful her husband always is. “Perfection” keeps people from telling the truth, even to themselves. My husband is adorable. He called me a whore this week because I smiled at a stranger. When I started crying, he said he had a game to go watch. I love him so much.

“Perfection” is a husband who is belittled, unappreciated, and abused by his wife, yet works endlessly to make his marriage appear incredible to those around him. ”Perfection” really does keep people from being real about the truth. You would have laughed, guys. She said that I suck at my job and will never go anywhere in life. Then she insinuated that I was a fat, rotting pile of crap. Isn’t she the best?

“Perfection” is a daughter with an eating disorder that keeps it hidden for years because she doesn’t want to be the first among her family and friends to be imperfect. She would give anything to confront it, but she can’t because then the “Perfect” people would hate her as much as she hates herself for it.

“Perfection” is when a son has a forbidden addiction, and despises himself for it. “Perfection” makes us believe that nobody else could understand what it is like to be weak and fall prey to the pressures of the world.

“Perfection” is a man who loathes himself for feeling unwanted attraction toward other men.

“Perfection” is a couple drowning in debt, but who still agree to that cruise with their friends because the words “we don’t have the money” are impossible ones to push across their lips.

“Perfection” is a mom hating herself because she only sees that every other mom around her is the perfect mother, the perfect wife, and the perfect neighbor. I’d give anything to be Mrs. Jones. Today she ran 34 miles, cooked six complete meals, participated in a two-hour activity with each of her seven children, hosted a marriage class with her husband, and still had time to show up for Bunco. What this mom doesn’t know is that Mrs. Jones is also at home crying right now because the pressure to be “Perfect” never lets up.

“Perfection” is a dad hating himself because he can’t give the same thing to his kids that other dads do, and then hates himself further because he takes his self-loathing out on his kids behind closed doors. You know what would have been nice? If you were never born. Do you realize how much money I’d have right now? Now come give Daddy a hug because I can force you to give me validation.

“Perfection” is a child hating herself because the boys at school call her fat, and when she goes home she tells her mom that school was fine. Her mom never stops to question why her daughter doesn’t have any friends, because her mom doesn’t want to think that anything might be less than “Perfect”.

“Perfection” is a man feeling like a smaller man because his neighbor just pulled in with a new boat.

“Perfection” is a woman who is so overwhelmed that she thinks about killing herself daily. “Perfection” makes it so that she never will because of the things people will think if she does. How could I make my suicide look like an accident? If I kill myself, I don’t want anybody knowing that I ever had any problems. She never stops to look at why she wants to do it, because healing means admitting imperfection.

“Perfection” is a man who everybody heralds as perfect, and inside he is screaming to be seen as the faulty human being that he always has been. Because to no longer be “the perfect one”, that would be freeing.

“Perfection” is a woman having an affair because she’s too afraid to confront the imperfection in her marriage.

“Perfection” is a twelve-year-old boy killing himself because he is ashamed that he can’t stop masturbating.

Stop, and read that one again.

There is a twelve-year-old boy buried 20 miles from where I sit because the “Perfection” that has infected the people around him infected him to the point that he deemed his own life worthless. “Perfection” pushed him to take his own life over something most of us would consider negligible in the life of any teenage boy.

“Perfection” is my friend’s cousin swallowing hundreds of pills because she just got the news that she was pregnant, out of wedlock, and the shame was too much to bear. She was only attempting to cause a miscarriage. 24 hours later, she closed her eyes and never opened them again. She is dead because of the “Perfection” infecting those around her. We’d rather you die than shame this family. Thanks for taking care of that, honey. By the way, we’ll do the right thing and make ourselves out to be the victims now. We have to. We’re infected with “Perfection”.

I could go on. This is all a small sampling of the disease called “Perfection”. You have brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, extended family members, neighbors, friends, and children who are ALL these things, yet none of us will ever know. “Perfection” is a hideous monster with a really beautiful face. And chances are you’re infected. The good news is, there is a cure.

Be real.

Embrace that you have weakness. Because everybody does. Embrace that your body is not perfect. Because nobody’s is. Embrace that you have things you can’t control. We all have a list of them.

Here’s your wake-up call:

You aren’t the only one who feels worthless sometimes.

You aren’t the only one who took your frustrations out on your children today.

You aren’t the only one who isn’t making enough money to support your lifestyle.

You aren’t the only one who has questions and doubts about your religion.

You aren’t the only one who sometimes says things that really hurt other people.

You aren’t the only one who feels trapped in your marriage.

You aren’t the only one who gets down and hates yourself and you can’t figure out why.

You aren’t the only one that questions your sexual orientation.

You aren’t the only one who hates your body.

You aren’t the only one that can’t control yourself around food.

Your husband is not the only husband who’s addiction sends him online for his sexual fulfillment instead of to you.

Your wife is not the only wife that is mean and vindictive and makes you hate yourself.

Why didn’t somebody, anybody, put their arm around that 12-year old boy and let him know that they loved him and would always love him? What was he being told and taught that he would end his own life over something that almost no teenager can control? Maybe that beautiful and wonderful boy would still be alive if even one person had broken down the “Perfection” that completely controlled all those in his life from whom he desperately craved validation.

Why didn’t somebody, anybody, tell a beautiful pregnant girl that there was nothing so big in life that it couldn’t be made right. Maybe that incredible young woman would still be alive. Maybe her now one-year-old child would be learning to walk or say “Mommy” right now. Maybe.


The cure is so simple.

Be real.

Be bold about your weaknesses and you will change people’s lives. Be honest about who you actually are, and others will begin to be their actual selves around you. Once you cure yourself of the disease, others will come to you, asking if they can just “talk”. People are desperate to talk. Some of the most “perfect” people around you will tell you of some of the greatest struggles going on. Some of the most “perfect” people around you will break down in tears as they tell you how difficult life is for them. Turns out some of the most “perfect” people around us are human beings after all, and are dying to talk to another human being about it.

You’ll love them for it. And you’ll love yourself even more.

Let’s not forget this quote: “I went out to find a friend and could not find one there. I went out to be a friend, and friends were everywhere.” Somebody who is being a friend doesn’t spread “Perfection”. Somebody who is being a friend spreads “Real”. Then, and only then, can we all grow together.

I am not perfect, nor do I want anybody to think of me as such. Here’s my dose of real:

I once stole a box of money that was meant for a child with cancer. There was more than $150 inside. That was 12 years ago, and I still hate the person in me that did that.

I believe in God, but not religion. It took me 30 years to find the courage to say that. It took me 30 years to believe that I could be a good man and still believe that.

I once got so angry at my wife that I hit the wall. The dent is still there, haunting me every time I see it because I never thought that was something I would do.

I once sat in my bedroom crying uncontrollably because I felt like everybody thought I was fat and ugly. I was a full grown man.

There are some people I avoid bumping into in public because I feel like I’m not as good as them.

I judge people harshly who share the same features that I hate about myself.

Sometimes I’m sad. Sometimes I’m not funny. Sometimes I just want to be alone. Sometimes I stay at home on a weekend because I just don’t want to see the “Perfection” going on around me. Sometimes I want to drop-kick a perfect person’s head across the room.

“Perfection” infects every corner of society. It infects our schools. It infects neighborhoods. It infects our workplaces. This is not to say that there aren’t a lot of genuinely, happy people. I am one of those people. Most of the time. There is nothing more beautiful than a person finding true happiness in who they are and what they believe. No, this is not me trying to diminish the happiness in others. This is merely me pathetically attempting to put a face on a problem that I see everywhere but few people ever notice.

This is me, weeping as I write, asking the good people of the world to find somebody to put their arm around and be “real”. This is me, wishing that people would realize how beautiful they are, even with all of their imperfections. This is me, sad and desperate for the girls in this world to love themselves. This is me, a very imperfect man, trying to help others feel a little more perfect by asking you to act a little less perfect.

Will you help me spread “Real”? Tell us below just how perfect you aren’t. You never know who might be alive tomorrow because you were real today. You never know who needs to feel like they aren’t alone in their inability to be perfect. Even if you comment as an anonymous guest, please comment. Tell us what you struggle with. Tell a sad or dark secret. Get vulnerable. Get real. Let’s see if we can get 1,000 people showing the world that we’re not defined by perfection.- Dan Pearce Single Dad Laughing"

I am so very thankful that someone found the words to say what has needed to be said for, well...ever.
People really do live their lives trying to keep up the illusion of perfection.

The whole thing can be really disheartening for those of us who know our lives aren't always rainbows and butterflies.  It can make us think that we must be the only dumbass out there who can't seem to manage to clean the entire house, cook healthy and nutritious meals three times a day, have the dishes done, keep up on laundry, all while raising their perfectly angelic, clean, fully clothed, wonderful, never-argue-about-anything children on a daily basis.
(Oh, and I don't want to forget those other people that always seem to not only be able to have a shower every day, but to stand in the bathroom for however long doing their hair and makeup just so, and they always have clean clothes on...they don't seem to ever have the peanut butter hand prints or snot streaks on them I have...)

So I want to stand up and say, I am not perfect.  I wish I was.  Badly.  Almost desperately.  But I'm not.

Sometimes my house looks like a tornado went through it, but instead of the tornado lifting up the furniture and moving it, or destroying the frame of the house, it only picked up a hundred tiny toys, random socks and pants, and bits of small paper, and scattered them around the living room, kitchen, dining room, and in every bedroom.  (Must have been a small tornado, I guess.)

Sometimes I make my kids pasta with plain, jarred spaghetti sauce because I'm too tired to cook them a real balanced meal, because I spent the whole day trying to make my house look perfect.  I try to make things better by giving them peanut butter and apple slices for their bedtime snack.  But I still feel like I failed.  Worst mom ever.

Sometimes I yell.  Sometimes I see one of my kids running with scissors toward another one of the kids and my brain goes numb and I scream, "DON'T RUN WITH SCISSORS!!  NOOOOOO!!  STOP!!!!!"
Immediately the child will look at me with that look...the one that hurts more than those scissors would hurt if they were just suddenly stabbed into my chest.
Or when I'm trying to make supper between refereeing fights over princesses and super-guys, trying to unload the dishwasher, clear the table, and drying the little one off (she stands in the dog's water bowl, you see...), while my husband lays on the couch because he worked all day... Sometimes when I hear that high-pitched scream from Older Daughter, I snap.  Sometimes I yell that if they don't stop fighting and get along rightthissecond, I'm going to throw the two of them right in the tree, "and I'm not joking!"
The sudden quiet isn't as sweet as it seemed it would be...I know they stopped because I yelled.  And suddenly that silence that I thought I needed so badly is louder than the noise they were making.  It makes me feel like a piece of crap.

Sometimes I just want everything to go away...  I want to stop feeling like I'm doing such a horrible job of this.  I want things to be that perfect vision I have of how everyone else is doing it.  I just want to be good at this, and to not BE exhausted or overwhelmed, or angry that as hard as I try, it's NEVER PERFECT.

Sometimes I put my daughter in disposable diapers because I'm so tired that the thought of washing out the cloth diapers sitting in the bathroom makes me want to cry.

Sometimes when Little Daughter (previously referred to as Baby Piranha) screams for chips, I give them to her.  I don't WANT to give them to her, and I feel like I must be the worst mom on the planet for giving in...but I just want her to please stop crying for them.

On the good days I get a few rooms cleaned up, some laundry done, and make some pretty fantastic meals, all while the kids play nicely.  Some days I can get Little Daughter to eat veggies and dip in place of the chips she screams for.  Some days I can reach out and swipe those scissors as The Boy runs past me, and I don't need to yell at all.  Some days I am great at being good enough.  And I really think I need to embrace the notion of not being Mrs. Cleaver.  As hard as I try, as much time as I spend working toward perfection...I'm NEVER going to be perfect.  Ever.

I don't know if that fear of a seeing my child running with scissors is ever going to be something that is quiet enough inside of me to keep me from yelling like I'm on fire when I see it happening.  And I don't know if that's really even something I would WANT to happen (that's some dangerous shit!).  But it sure would be nice to step back and just learn to be okay with being imperfect.  I think it would just be so...freeing.

My mission is to be more forgiving of myself.  I have never expected perfection from anyone I've ever known, and preach "nobody is perfect", and "everyone makes mistakes", to my kids.  I think it's time I live it.

And that's not to say I'm ever going to stop striving for more...to be better...to know more.  But I'm going to stop expecting that one day I will be perfect.


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